North Korea appears to have slowed down operations at its main nuclear site of Punggyeri, ahead of leader Kim Jong Un’s upcoming summits on denuclearization with South Korea and the United States.
Calling this an “important development,” the commentary says the latest imagery compares with those from early March where there were signs of continued tunneling excavations which began September last year, shortly after the North’s sixth underground nuclear test.
Up until March 2, spoil pile had been growing as well as frequency of mining carts and personnel moving around in the area.
A small group of personnel that was previously sighted in the nuclear site’s Main Administration Area was also nowhere to be seen, although this may be due to seasonal factors, 38 North said.
The apparent slowdown of tunneling activities came after North Korea’s landmark decision to hold talks with Seoul and Washington.
In a meeting with Seoul envoys in early March, Kim Jong Un also said he would freeze nuclear weapons development during the talks.
The commentary, however, deems it early to tell whether tunneling operations have been temporarily reduced or if they would continue over time.